I had a longer draft that included the irony of a movie about fracking filming in Pennsylvania but hiding that fact, which has always made me think that they really didn’t want the film to seem like Penn.
I don’t think you are being too cynical, I think there’s a fair amount of truth to Steve’s rant in the film about the land not being as profitable as it once was. Then again, I suppose that depends on how you want to continue to define “successful.” I also can’t decide how the film means for us to interpret it’s seemingly ambivalent feelings about small town life. Should we embrace small town life, as Steve does at the end? Or run away from the vast middle to the more profitable urban areas? I’m also interested at how this intersects with some movement in the blogsphere of young people ditching their high powered jobs and moving to the country.
Zara, that’s great. That should be fun and valuable research. I got a kick out of those music video parodies as well.
To be more specific about the internet being used on deployment: service members are not (as far as I know) using off base cafes, but there are civilian run internet cafes on base, not connected to military networks. While I can’t speak to the matter of how ownership of satellites impacts the information, it is my understanding that internet sites for user-generated media (i.e.: YouTube) are the arbiters of the information that comes through, and their responsibility lies with keeping it legal and within their own established constraints. I’m not personally aware of any government censorship outside of normal legal repercussions in the case of infringement. Moreover, YouTube users are expected to help the company police its content according to laws and company guidelines, by flagging.
On that note, there is a VERY interesting International Journal of Communication article* on the whole subject of user-generated media in war that I ran into yesterday. It discusses various issues about this type of media space during war time and who controls it. Particularly the article focuses on a phenomenon where civilian users grouped together and formed a coalition of ‘anti-terrorists’ who labeled themselves “Operation YouTube Smackdown” (OYS). Their mission has been to impede the proliferation of propaganda by anti-coalition forces and/or terrorist organizations. It’s well worth a read!
*Citation: Fiore-Silfvast, Brittany. “User-Generated Warfare: A Case of Converging Wartime Information Networks and Coproductive Regulation on YouTube.” International Journal of Communication 6 (2012), 1965–1988 1932–8036/20120005. (http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/viewFile/1436/774)
A great deal of regulation comes as a reaction to a disastrous media event such as Abu Ghraib. Also, regulation may be specific to certain areas of operation and certain types of units. It would be interesting to look at some of the more disastrous media stories from the military and track the fluctuation in internet freedom for service members.
I recall shortly after the repeal of DADT a flood of images in the press showing gay and lesbian service members greeting their significant others with a public kiss. While these were representations of homecomings, they seemed to have been presented in the media for their shock factor more than for their value celebrating a family reunion. The reaction in the gay press seemed more to be a sort of, “Aww that’s cute. Now move on. Nothing to see here,” as if in a call for normalcy rather than voyeurism. As someone who identifies as gay and who spent his time in the military under DADT, I have mixed reactions because on one hand I recognize the importance of representing non-heterosexual service members in the mainstream media but on the other hand I would rather they not be presented as spectacle.
Hey Just wanted to also say thanks for the post. I am doing some work on the music videos soldiers make— choreographed to Carly Rae Jepson and Lady Gaga etc. It seems there is not much writing on this stuff around, so I appreciate this. And the links to commentary on the rules! Particularly interested in the fact soldiers maybe using spaces outside the base to upload; I had been thinking of these videos as mediated by US satellites but perhaps not?
Thanks for this viewpoint, Hattie. I hadn’t seen these shows myself, so your clip was helpful. In moving forward, I think it would be great to see service men and women coming out of the military getting more involved in the media somehow, and start to provide substitutes for this sort of thing that better serve the purpose of ‘motivating, inspiring, and fulfilling,’ (as Lauren so aptly put it) our fighters in a more realistic fashion. But I suppose that begs a bigger question: will fantasy always win out when it comes to ratings?
Hi Karen and Hattie, thank you for putting this week together! And great questions. While I can’t give you a definitive answer as far as current rules, I’ll tell you what I know, and hopefully others will jump in if they have more insight. There does not seem to be any specific military-wide rule structure on online content, per-say. I’m assuming this is partly because it would be extremely difficult to police such a thing. Individuals on deployment are allowed to have cameras, cell phones, and use the internet unsupervised. That being said, there is an understanding of operational security that is relied on to help military members police themselves, and occasionally individual units will make specific rules requiring approval and such for pictures, videos, and other content (see http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2012/05/21/153003267/military...). For the most part, military members know that it is in their best interest to not display anything that could compromise their mission/lives, and there are specific rules about not making certain kinds of political statements.
Now, from 2007-2010, there was a ban on using popular social media sites including YouTube, to try to curb the negative affects of certain posts. However, this only included DOD networks; it did not affect what people did on their personal computers or in internet cafe’s. This Seattle Times article talks about the ban and brings up the point that stifling ‘voices’ in the field could have negative effects when the enemy is still able to upload, promote, and celebrate their successful missions (http://seattletimes.com/html/entertainment/2003706431_militaryblock14.html).
That all being said, if anything a service member releases seriously hampers operational security or exhibits taking part in a criminal act, there can be repercussions, as in the cases of Abu Gharaib and the Marines who videotaped themselves with dead Taliban members.
Thank you, Nicole for using this video, it never fails to entertain. I think you’re right about this type of content providing catharsis. Additionally, it provides a pretty accurate picture of day to day life during deployment, and that life is often hard to explain. I have the same questions about who regulates the release of these types of videos.
This clip is amazing—thanks for finding and sharing it.
There has a been a lot of press about certain types of military videos—footage of coffins returning home, images of abuse at detention centers, blurry news video with the sounds of bombs falling in the background—but I’m incredibly captivated by your description of the types of videos that soldiers make of themselves. Are there rules about these sorts of things? For example, do videos have to be approved before they are uploaded? Are there particular things that cannot be said? How formalized has this form of military self-expression become?
Karen, Thanks for putting this week together. I can only speak for myself, but I would say that fantasies about one’s homecoming typically do not include reconnecting with your spouse and children in front a packed football stadium. I’m sure everyone has fantasies about what it will be like to come home, or at least has a list of things they want to do, eat, see, etc. And you’re right, even those small fantasies don’t match up to reality. Coming home after a 6-12 month deployment is a jarring experience. It’s like going from 100mph to a full stop in 2 seconds, at least for the service member. So, perpetuating the drama through these theatrics seems unhealthy to me. I find the involvement of children the most disturbing aspect of this. Kids don’t ask to be born, and they don’t sign enlistment contracts, so subjecting them to this incredibly intense experience seems a little sick to me. I was single and had no kids when I came home, and it was still stressful. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like for an entirely family. So I wonder if, along with the extravaganza, the producers provide the family with anything they can actually use to aid them in the arduous process of becoming a family again. It’s not that we don’t see other, more inspirational content concerning veterans and their families, it’s that this particular content seems to get more air time. It lends itself to the overarching trend in our country to face conflict with more conflict.